June 1, 2010
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. - The Florida State men's golf team is in a tie for first place with Oklahoma State after the first round of the NCAA Division I Championship finals at The Honors Course. The Seminoles are led by senior Seath Lauer who is in a tie for third place in the individual standings after carding an opening round 69.
Florida State shot a team total of 283 as it counted three scores under par and one at one over par to count itself as the co-leader of the tournament. The Seminoles are one of four teams with three players in the top 25 of the individual standings as they look to win the school's first national title in the sport of men's golf. The Seminoles highest finish in the sport on the national level came when they finished in fourth place in 1957.
"Obviously I am pleased with our start today," said head coach Trey Jones. "The guys did a great job recognizing opportunities to be aggressive and recognizing opportunities to be patient. We continue to gain confidence as a team. If we get out this way again tomorrow we will continue to play well. This is just a start and in 12 hours we will have to be ready to face a really hard golf course with little rest."
Jones, though, is very cautious after one round of the championship.
"We have not accomplished one thing at this point."
With their first place standing, the Seminoles are tightly bunched with the top 15 teams in the standings. Following Florida State and Oklahoma State, the next 13 teams are all within 10 strokes of first place.
The NCAA Championship is played in two phases to determine the team national champion. The tournament began Tuesday with 30 teams and six individuals vying for the team and individual championships. The teams and individuals will play three 18 holes rounds (54 holes total) over the first three days of the event (June 1-3) with the individual champion being crowned following the third round of play. The teams are then cut to the top eight which move on to match play beginning June 4. One round of single elimination match plays is played each day beginning June 4 with each teams' seeds determined through stoke play. The championship match is played between the two remaining teams in June 6.
Florida State was led individually by Lauer (Huntington, Ind.) who shot a three under par 69 to finish the first round in a tie for third place. He cruised through the round with 17 consecutive holes at par or better before his only blemish -- a bogey - on his final hole of the afternoon. Lauer began the day with four consecutive holes at par before his first of four birdies on the day at hole No. 5 put him under par for the remainder of the afternoon. He birdied holes No. 5, 11, 13 and 15 to move to four under before his only miscue of the afternoon closed his day with a three under par 69
Lauer is one stroke behind co-leaders Jesper Kennegard of Arizona State and Henrik Norlander of Augusta State who carded identical scores of 68. Lauer was one of nine players in the 156 player field who carded scores of 69.
"I felt like I hit the ball great all day and I worked to stay very patient," said Lauer. "I felt like I had a lot of patience within myself today and I felt like I drove the ball and stuck it well throughout the round. I was happy with my round because I made no real mistakes."
The score of 69 for Lauer will hopefully get him back on track after three over par rounds in the NCAA Central Regional Championship. Lauer's 69 was his first score below 70 since the first round of the Seminole Intercollegiate on March 12.
"Seath played another great round on a big stage," said Jones. "He did a great job of putting last week behind him and had a solid week of preparation."
Junior Drew Kittleson, the NCAA Central Regional champion, continued to play extraordinary golf and is in a tie for 13th place with a two under par score of 70. He, too, spent the majority of the afternoon under par with two birdies on his front nine and three birdies on his back nine. He finished his back nine with three birdies and five holes a par to finish with a score of 70. Kittleson was as many as three strokes under par and was never above par during the entire round.
"As a team we brought the same attitude as last week - we are prepared to play well and we want to win," said Kittleson. "We just need to keep doing what we have been doing for the last two weeks. We all love the course because even though it is very difficult it rewards good shots and the greens are fast. As a player, you can't ask for anything better."
Kittleson has now carded six consecutive rounds at par or better with five of those scores coming in under par and four of them being score in the 60's. He has not finished with a score above par since the final round of the ACC Championship on April 25.
"Drew has never hit the golf ball any better than he is hitting it now," said Jones. "He had two bad swings on par 3's that cost him 3 shots. Other than that is was as impressive of a ball striking day as I have witnessed."
Sophomore Brooks Koepka, the co-ACC player of the Year, is in a tie for 25th place after carding a one-under par score of 71. With five birdies, he was very comfortable on the course throughout the afternoon. He was one under par on his front nine and closed well on his back nine. With three birdies, he was two under par coming in to finish at one under par for the round.
Koepka (Wellington, Fla.) has now finished under par in two of his last three rounds after carding a four under par 68 in the second round of the NCAA Central Regional Championship.
Freshman Michael Hebert (Orlando, Fla.) is in a tie for 52nd place after carding a one-over par score of 73. He was consistent throughout the round with 16 holes at par or better with two birdies. Hebert was even on his front nine with one birdie and one bogey and one over par on his back nine with one birdies and two bogeys. He was under par for the majority of the round and was never more than one stroke over par during his first career NCAA Championship finals round. Herbert was outstanding on the middle nine holes of his round as he played from hole No. 4 to hole No. 12 at two under par with two birdies and seven holes scored at par.
"I hit lots of fairways and stuck my irons well today," said Hebert. "This is a great course; but there were a lot of spike marks and bumps on the greens because we played in the afternoon. Playing in the morning on Wednesday is going to be an advantage for us and hopefully we can take advantage of that and our positive momentum in order to keep playing well."
Hebert, who came within one stroke of tying the school record with a 64 in the final round of the NCAA Central Regional Championship, is within four strokes of moving in to the top five in the individual standings. A total of 10 players finished with first round of the tournament with one over par scores of 73.
Sophomore Wesley Graham (Port Orange, Fla.) struggled in the first round and is in a tie for 106th place with a score of 77. After a tough start on his front nine Graham seemed to right his ship late in the round and was one under par over his final eight holes. With two bogeys and a pair of double bogeys he was six over par after his first 10 holes and then calmed down to finish well on his back nine.
Graham is coming off of a brilliant second place finish at the NCAA Central Regional Championship. He carded the best tournament score of his career in leading the Seminoles to the second place finish at the regional - the highest in school history.
The Seminoles, who are ranked 11th in the nation and seeded 10th in this championship, will play in the morning wave of teams on Wednesday beginning at 8:07 with Clemson (of the ACC) and UCLA (of the Pac 10) for the second consecutive day.
NCAA Championship Finals/Par 72,/First Round Florida State Results The Honors Course/Ooltewah, Tenn./June 1-6, 2010 T1/30. Florida State 283 T3. Seath Lauer 69 T13. Drew Kittleson 70 T25. Brooks Koepka 71 T52. Michael Hebert 73 T103. Wesley Graham 77
NCAA Championship Finals/Par 72,/First Round Team Results The Honors Course/Ooltewah, Tenn./June 1-6, 2010 1. Florida State 283 T16. Baylor 294 2. Oklahoma State 283 T16. UNLV 294 3. Oregon 284 T16. San Diego 294 4. Texas A&M 285 T16. UCLA 294 T5. Arizona State 286 T20. Southern Cal. 295 T5. Clemson 286 T20. Oregon State 295 T7. Florida 287 22. Duke 296 T7. Augusta State 287 T23. Georgia Southern 297 9. Washington 289 T23. Tennessee 297 T10. Texas 290 25. Virginia 300 T10. Georgia Tech 290 26. Penn State 301 T12. Kent State 292 T27. TCU 302 T12. Stanford 292 T27. Texas Tech 302 T12. North Florida 292 29. LSU 303 15. California 293 30. Illinois 304